What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is currently one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends. Many studies show the benefits of IF, especially those struggling with obesity. Evidence also shows that alternate day fasting can be cardio-protective.
Fasting has been a practice throughout human evolution. The ancient hunter-gatherers didn’t have food available year-round so if they couldn’t find anything to eat,they would have to learn to function for extended periods of time without food. Fasting is also used in the of all of the main religions for spiritual reasons.
The most popular methods are:
- The 16/8 method: Also called the Lean gains protocol, it involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. Then you fast for 16 hours in between.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
- The 5:2 diet: With this method,you consume only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days.
Intermittent fasting, when used correctly for the right person in the right time frame, can be fantastic when weight loss is the goal BUT the key phrases in that sentence are “right person” and “right time frame.”
Who should not use Intermittent Fasting?
- Anyone with big swings in blood-sugar levels
- Anyone with hormone imbalances
- Anyone with thyroid issues
- Pregnant women
- Anyone with a history of eating disorders
Remember calorie restriction can stress out the delicate endocrine system which looks after our hormones.
Although Intermittent Fasting can be a useful tool for both men and women, gender can play a role to how successful it is. Men tend to respond better to it as a weight-loss intervention as fasting is more likely to trigger hormonal imbalance in women.
It’s equally important to remember that fasting and intermittent fasting are not meant to be practiced in the long term. Long-term fasting should never be done without a qualified professional. Executed by the wrong person, long-term fasting can do more harm than good.
What is Time-restricted eating?
This means avoiding food for 12 hours, say from 8 p.m. until 8 a.m. the next day. It is generally considered safe and is a fairly common pattern for many people already. But don’t undertake a serious fasting regime without consulting a qualified professional. If your blood-sugar levels fluctuate dramatically or you have a history of hormone imbalance, have your thyroid function checked before starting.
If you continue using intermittent-fasting for more than a month or two, it would be advisable to have a blood test with your nutritional therapist / GP to ensure that you’re not triggering a stress response or imbalance.
Finally, don’t let the fasting mentality be an excuse to eat whatever you want during your eating hours. Focus on high-quality, nutrient-dense whole foods that support your health.
If you would like to some support in achieving your optimum weight without having to diet, please contact us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website: www.therapeutickitchen.co.uk
Jane Mostowfi is a registered Nutritional Therapist specialising in optimum weight, hormone balance, and gut health. She runs her Nutritional Therapy Practice alongside her husband, Ramin who is a qualified Natural Chef. They offer one to one personalised nutrition consultations and support packages, functional testing, food coaching and meal planning, individual nutritional cookery lessons and culinary workshops.